August is Museum Month: Le Musee de f.p.c. on Esplanade offers a rare glimpse into the lives of free people of color

NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) - There’s a beautiful building on Esplanade and it’s a cultural relic housing a couple hundred pieces of history.

Specifically, the history of free people of color.

"It was a group of people whose story needs to be told and whose lives and contributions should be celebrated," says Beverly Mckenna with Le Musee de f.p.c.

It's a personal collection that continues to grow piece by piece and during the month of August you can take it all in for free if you’re a card carrying member of one of the 15 museums participating.

"Every year our attendance spikes during the month and we allow people, particularly people from the city who are looking for something new to do, a new place to explore," says Mckenna.

Le Musee de f.p.c. or, “free people of color,” is the term used to refer to blacks who were born free or manumitted prior to the Civil War.

Mckenna says it’s these people who are largely responsible for making America what it is today.

"A lot of people do not know that this group of people were very instrumental. They've contributed to everything that has happened in the country. Black people built New Orleans," says Mckenna.

Mckenna says New Orleans and south Louisiana was where one of the oldest and largest populations of free people of color lived.

On the eve of the Civil War 18,000 free people of color owned and paid taxes on $15 million of property in the city she says, making this museum a must see from start to finish.